A couple weeks ago, I saw Rome Fortune tweet something about a song called “I Don’t Sell Molly No More”, hinting that the artist behind it – iLoveMakonnen – was going to take off soon. I wasn’t familiar with the name, but between the absurdity of it and my trusting of Rome’s voice and ear (here‘s where that all started), I pulled the track up on Soundcloud and gave it a spin.
The Sonny Digital-produced banger is remarkably catchy and just as weird. Makonnen basically whispers on the hook, like he only wants the one person he’s talking to in the crowded room hearing that he’s “got the gas and the coke,” but that he doesn’t “sell mollyyyyyyy no more.” The song had me hooked off one listen so naturally I sought out more.
I turned to the newly released “Sex, Love, Ecstasy” and realized 10 seconds in that it was perhaps one of the most unique hip-hop (I guess?) songs I had ever heard. Makonnen sounds overcome with pain when he croons, “Hey Samantha, you can’t be serious, I heard that last week you moved to Syria, what about me and all we had? I don’t believe it, I should call your dad.” It’s like the vulnerability of Drake meets the wildly colorful, inflection-powered delivery of Young Thug in the best way, and it makes for – at worst – music that demands attention.
Pairing nicely with the rapidly growing hype, iLoveMakonnen released his latest project, Drink More Water 4, on Friday afternoon. I didn’t expect disappointment by any means, but that’s often how it goes when you stumble upon a couple hot joints from a new artist – their projects don’t live up to the hype built by the singles that popped off and caught your attention. That’s not the case with Drink More Water 4, though. I downloaded it and put it on my phone right before a 3-hour drive and ended up running through it at least four times throughout the trip. The tape – fueled by production from Atlanta heavyweights Metro Boomin, DJ Spinz, FKI, Dun Deal and Makonnen himself – is incredibly fun, for lack of a better word, and it’s thoroughly engaging and littered with hits. It opens with “Whip It,” a freestyle in which Makonnen addresses himself in first person and chants a phrase I can’t help but cosign from the bottom of my heart – “My friend Makonnen is teaching me how to whip it, teaching me how to whip, whip, teaching me how to whip it.”
“Sex, Love, Ecstasy” follows, then it’s the Metro Boomin-produced “Man Of The Party” that’s laced with another hilarious, drug-peddling-themed hook built off a melody you weren’t even aware existed. “I Mix My” is similarly themed but darker – in the same vein of vulnerability as “Sex, Love, Ecstasy” – and we get an alternative look at Makonnen, the version that’s home alone reflecting on his troubles after a long night out as the man of the party. That’s what all of Drink More Water 4 is, really. It’s a series of odd but intensely human juxtapositions, one that portrays Makonnen as a real person not a hand-crafted, projected image. He can make hits, sure, but ultimately what’s drawing people to him is his relatably dual nature.
The projects final three tracks – “21st Street,” “Maneuvering” and “Hold Up” – are all hits in their own right and refreshingly unique in flavor. Makonnen’s voice and personality remains consistent, but his experimental approach keeps things fresh. The production is next level top to bottom, but that “Maneuvering” beat is otherworldly and helps make it one of my favorite joints. It’s a bit repetitive, but the opening two minutes are a spiritual experience.
After checking out his website, it turns out Makonnen’s discography is much more extensive than I initially assumed. Once I’m tired of Drink More Water 4 (I don’t know when that’s going to happen), I’ll start backtracking and catching up on what I missed. You can start wherever you’d like, but I’d recommend streaming the new tape below, and if you’re feeling it, download in full HERE. Stay tuned for much more.